|The Boy - Bowling|
There’s something so very British about the sound of leather on willow – and no it’s got nothing to do with 50 Shades of Grey – it’s cricket on a sunny (yes it was sunny in our part of Suffolk yesterday) Saturday afternoon.
The grass had been freshly mowed and the scent was a perfect backdrop to the scene before my eyes; eight teams of perfectly turned out young cricketers, laughing, running about, clapping and gently cheering on their fellow team mates.
There were lots of: “Good Bowl!” “Marvellous catch!” “Super fielding!” “Excellent back up!”
It was so very civilised or at least that’s what I thought…
There were a few stalwart parents from our club at the Tourney for Under 9 Cricketers, gamely clapping and supporting our little team of 6 throughout the interminable matches that had been going on since 10 in the morning. It wasn’t too onerous, our boys had won every match played and we were through to the semi-finals.
Absolutely brilliant, especially as two players in the team had never played in a cricket tourney before and in fact had only just made it in to the team for the first time. The Boy being one.
The kids were keyed up; it looked very likely that they had a chance of winning. The anticipation around the ground grew as the semi-finals were played out. It was an unbelievable match, both teams neck and neck, not a ball could be given not a run let slip by. They got through.
It was great.
We could win. And even if we didn’t it looked like a great game would ensue. I was really looking forward to it.That is until I saw the team we were up against.
And their supporters…
If I said we were outgunned, outnumbered and outclassed that would have been an understatement…
To our five supporters there were 40 of theirs en famille with picnics, chairs rugs and banners – yup banners.
It seemed out of place; it seemed so contrived. It was scary enough to us but what it would do to our little team, I dreaded.
Suddenly there was an air of danger. It was uncomfortable.
As for their team – I counted nine children. And some of them looked suspiciously big.
The match started but I could see that our coach was very unhappy and then the whispers began – some of the children playing on the other team were in Year 5 (10 year olds up against kids under 9). Some of the children on the other team had not been playing every match but had been resting every other one so were of course much fresher than our little band who had played six matches on the go to get to the finals.
As supporters we muttered about how unfair that was and gradually became more and more silent with suppressed anger. The team faltered without our support and started to lose heart. Fielding became fumbled, batting mistakes were made.
To loud cheers from the other side it looked like we would sink without a trace.
But coaches the world over now in the face of utter annihilation the best thing to do is to fight on and pretend everything is OK and he made us clap and call out good fields and unlucky when the boys didn’t quite and the little team rallied and started to fight back. Every ball was chased down, the boys started working harder as a team than ever before they clicked properly and it was great to see.
But they still lost.
The matter was brought up with the organisers who at least apologised to our coach though not I noted to the boys themselves. It was out of his hands and too late to do anything about it anyway. The other team claimed they hadn’t realised they had done anything wrong though as I trotted past I overheard one of the mothers saying that all their best players were Under 10s and as there wasn’t an Under 10 tourney how else were her kids going to get to play if they didn’t play Under 9?
It was galling to see their team go up and get the trophy and have their photographs taken but as I said to The Boy: “Better to lose honourably than to win by cheating."
I don’t think it cut much ice and it left a rather sour note at the end of a lovely day. But I think as a team the boys will stick together bonded by their loss and the fact that they should have won if everyone had been playing by the rules.
"Cheating," said The Boy in the car on the way back home: "just isn’t cricket, Mummy."